(Adds testimony from hearing, industry group's prepared remarks)
Oct 3 (Reuters) - U.S. solar manufacturers seeking tariffs and other trade remedies on cheap foreign-made panels made their case to a government commission on Tuesday, saying competition from China and elsewhere has left the domestic industry on the verge of collapse.
The closely-watched trade case before the U.S. International Trade Commission has pitted the nation's solar installers and developers against two struggling domestic panel makers. Installers rely on cheap panels to build projects that are cost competitive with natural gas and coal plants.
After ruling unanimously last month that domestic producers have been harmed by imports, the commission now must decide what trade remedies to recommend to President Donald Trump, who will make a final decision later this year. The ITC must deliver its report to the president by Nov. 13.
Suniva and SolarWorld, which are both foreign-owned but manufacture panels in the United States, delivered testimony on Tuesday asking for four years of expanded tariffs, plus either a price floor on panels or an import quota.
"Tariffs alone will not remedy the serious injury you found," Suniva attorney Matthew McConkey told the commission.
In documents filed with the commission last week, Suniva asked for a tariff of 25 cents per watt on solar cells and 32 cents per watt on panels. The manufacturer is also seeking a minimum price on panels of 74 cents a watt, nearly double their current cost.
Existing tariffs on solar products from China and Taiwan have been insufficient to protect the domestic industry, Suniva said. Suniva is majority owned by Shunfeng International Clean Energy and SolarWorld AG is based in Germany.
The Solar Energy Industries Association, the sector's primary trade group, opposes Suniva's petition.
SEIA has not yet testified before the commission, but a copy of the group's prepared remarks, provided to Reuters, argued that higher prices will hurt both installation companies and manufacturers because demand would suffer and prompt widespread job losses.
"These job losses are far, far in excess of any limited job gains the domestic cell and module industry might obtain based on optimistic projections," SEIA attorney Matthew Nicely said in the prepared statement. "In other words, the costs outweigh the benefits."
As remedies, SEIA suggested federal technical assistance and job training programs as well as a modest import licensing fee that would benefit U.S. manufacturers. (Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Sue Horton and Rosalba O'Brien)